The Week Of: January 20, 2020

This week’s news and stories of interest to the AML community. If you prefer a news roundup sent to you, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

EU threatens money-laundering laggard members

A number of EU countries have dropped the ball with meeting a deadline to implement the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

By January 10th, members were supposed to have installed new rules surrounding crypto assets, the art industry, and beneficial ownership registries. Now the European Commission is threatening to launch “infringement procedures” against those that have failed to do so—“Procrastination nations” that include Malta, Cyprus, France, and Italy.

Read more at Bloomberg.

How shadowy brokers allegedly launder billions for crypto criminals

Despite recent attempts by governments and global regulators to manage the semi-anonymous nature of virtual currencies, one way VC users have bypassed KYC requirements is through the use of middlemen, or over the counter (OTC) brokers.

While OTC brokers are fixtures in the stock trading world, and some larger crypto firms such as Coinbase employ them, some have assisted in the laundering of billions of dollars in criminal proceeds in 2019 according to analysis performed by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis.

OTC brokers are lightly regulated, allowing shadowy middlemen to conduct business over Skype or messaging apps such as Telegram. While some operate individually, others are thought to be long-established criminal networks.

Read more at Fortune.

U.S. seeks fines against Turkey’s Halkbank over Iran sanctions violations; Iran warns Europe not to follow U.S.

The U.S. government is taking its sanctions actions against Iran seriously. In a filing in Manhattan federal court this week, prosecutors said that Turkey’s state-owned bank Halkbank should be subjected to millions of dollars in fines for allegedly helping clients evade the sanctions.

Halkbank has declined to defend itself in court against the charges. The U.S. filed charges in October, accusing it and its executives of using money servicers and front companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to evade sanctions and undertaking transactions on Iran’s behalf that would have exposed the bank to sanctions. Reuters has more.

Meanwhile, Iran has told European officials not to follow the U.S. in “undermining” its nuclear pact with world powers. Britain, France and Germany have recently accused Tehran of violating the 2015 nuclear deal, a dispute mechanism that could ultimately lead to the case being referred to the U.N. Security Council to restore U.N. sanctions.

Read more at Yahoo! Finance.